Since I’m around a year behind in my movie reviews, I’ll post a quick summary of my thoughts on what I’ve seen of this season’s anime and try to keep up to date there!
- Kuromukuro (2 eps) – a sci-fi mecha show that seems just slightly more realistic in its depictions of characters lives than normal. Just slightly though, and now that I’ve said that, there will probably be a talking alien penguin in the next ep.
- Macross Delta (1 ep) – I can’t resist Macross! Mecha plus singing and dancing, this time featuring an idol group (whose music quells some kind of berserker syndrome) and the pilots who protect them.
- Gyakuten Saiban (4 eps) – I’ve played the first game and watched the live action movie, so this series is probably just a retread. The animation isn’t very good, and the translation I’m watching idiotically uses the localized names. However, this series has been fun so far.
- Hundred (1 ep) – This looks like some kind of standard action-sci-fi harem show, with a very girly boy best friend.
- Koutetsujou no Kabaneri (2 eps) – Set in a steampunk zombie apocalypse, the production values are high and there’s some interesting ideas here – though the main character is a bit annoying and the walled cities are reminiscent of Shingeki no Kyojin. The heroine (?) seems cool though.
- Kiznaiver (3 eps) – I’m watching this one because it’s by Trigger, and after 3 episodes I still don’t know what’s going on.
- Netoge no Yome wa Onnanoko Janai to Omotta (3 eps) – This MMO-related comedy is probably my guilty pleasure of the season, with the MMO-addicted heroine ranting about how リア充 (normal, non-otaku people with girl/boyfriends) should all just die. There’s enough cringe-humour to keep me coming back so far.
- Re Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu (3 eps) – The production quality on this light novel adaptation is high (I particularly like how the lighting changes over time, and how Nouto Mamiko’s character moves), and the setup is strange but intriguing; though the Japanese preference for low fantasy here makes you wonder about the significance of the beginning. The light-novel talkiness of the characters does get a bit annoying, especially when they talk themselves into trouble, but that’s what you get from the genre I suppose.
- Sailor Moon Crystal third season (3 eps) – The animation has improved massively from the last two seasons, and transformations are no longer CGI. Maybe the studio realised the demand for Sailor Moon and decided to pony up cash? The storyline is a little bit more complex this time too.
- Terraformars Revenge (4 eps) – This was my brainless action series in the last season, but it seems the plot stepped up a little now, so it’s taking more of my attention.
My favourites so far are Koutetsujou no Kabaneri, Re Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu, and (almost certainly) Macross Delta.
I really didn’t like Avengers 2 – it was pointless in the grander scheme of the story, and uninteresting as a movie by itself. As a movie, it was entertaining and worth a watch – especially the early scenes, but afterwards its shortcomings just made me angry.
Soft spoilers below.
While I like many of Whedon’s works, his flaws were on display here. Ultron was an unthreatening villain styled like a comical cartoon character. Now I like James Spader, but the kind of demented personality he gives Ultron doesn’t make sense within the movie, and undercuts his gravitas. The villains and potential villains end up just adding to the already overcrowded pantheon, and the countless Ultron robots are basically cannon-fodder for CGI beatdowns.
Whedon attempts to develop the characters, but is hamfisted about it (Black Widow apparently flirts with a different character in each movie!) and the character interactions were pretty weak.
I was pretty wary of Divergent, being another one of those adaptations of dystopian YA novels (parodied expertly by Twitter account @DystopianYA), but it turned out to be pretty good.
Chappie was a disappointment, despite Hugh Jackman and Sharlto Copley (both fantastic actors), and I’m wondering if Neil Blomkamp was just a one-hit-wonder with District 9 (aside from the sci-fi worldbuilding he does). There were lots of wasted characters and the ending was kind of silly.
I actually enjoyed Jupiter Ascending, it was imaginative and very good-looking, and I enjoyed Mila Kunis’s character, though almost everyone else (in particular the hero) were very shallow.
Automata was a decent sci-fi flick that covers a lot of similar ground that other movies cover. The pacing is a bit slow, and the protagonist somewhat difficult to like though.
Ex Machina was very strong, with a few nice twists despite its very restricted focus, and Oscar Isaac was amazing – especially the dance scene! You can see him and Domhnall Gleeson in the new Star Wars too, though in very different roles. The movie covers a more advanced kind of Turing test, about proving whether an artificial intelligence is human-like, and I liked how it explicitly dismisses the technical questions in favour of the philosophical.
It’s truly amazing that Jackson could take a 200-page children’s book and inflate it to three long movies that rival Tolkien’s triple doorstopper magnum opus. Much of my enjoyment of the Hobbit movies comes from the opportunity to explore the cinematic vision of Tolkien’s seminal fantasy universe; for all their flaws, the Hobbit movies have been a lot of fun.
Like the other movies, the Battle of Five Armies suffers from bloat with unnecessary over-the-top content. I don’t need five minutes of abstract visual effects preceding a battle between Nazgul and some of the most powerful characters on Middle Earth that doesn’t go anyway, or a strange interspecies romance that I can’t help question the biological validity of. I didn’t like that the villain was CGI (a human actor in makeup with CGI touch-ups would have been for more convincing and tangible), nor that so many scenes were too-weightless-to-be-real CGI – I hope Jackson isn’t going down the Lucas path.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty was very pretty movie, and one in which Ben Stiller had to act rather than mug for the camera. I enjoyed the excursions to different parts of the globe, and the themes of going out and living life.
These Final Hours is an Australian end-of-the-world flick following a man who just wants to party away the apocalypse but stumbles upon a girl being attacked. I really enjoyed the movie and the questions it posed about how you act under certain doom. Apparently they’re remaking it as an American flick.
Into the Woods is a movie adaptation of a musical, and unfortunately it shows, with an overcomplicated storyline, profusion of characters, confused tone, limited visual effects, and weak ending. Oh, and all the singing too. I was disappointed.
The trend about cutting the final book in a series into two movies is pretty annoying, but I enjoyed Mockingjay enough not to mind too much. While the Hunger Games and much Young Adult fiction is teen angst projected onto a world-scale canvass (notice all these dystopias with circumscribed societal roles), the emphasis on image and celebrity is a modern twist.
The reluctant Katniss helps make “propo” (propaganda) videos with the help of the wonderful Natalie Dormer, and eventually helps storm the Capitol.
It’s not made clear why Plutarch supports the rebellion (jeopardsing his own lofty position), which is a shame. I was surprised that Katniss picked Peeta over Gale, since according to movie logic Liam Hemsworth is substantially more attractive than Josh Hutcherson – but Katniss and Peeta went through a lot more together.
So I don’t actually like war films per se, but somehow I’ve really enjoyed Zero Dark Thirty and now American Sniper.
Clint Eastwood directs Bradley Cooper playing a fictionalised version of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, who goes on multiple tours in Iraq. Despite the things changed for the movie (Kyle is more patriotic, and has an Olympic sniper nemesis), it’s eyeopening to see the kind of things that soldiers (and civilians) go through.